S.China's Guangdong no longer uses birth registration to restrict births; moves closer to 'scraping all restrictions'
Published: May 06, 2022 05:29 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

South China's Guangdong Province, the province with the highest number of births in China for years, said that birth registration was no longer served as a tool for restricting births and allowed all births to be registered including births outside marriage in its newly implemented birth registration guideline. 

Chinese demographers said Guangdong Province is moving closer to scrap all restrictions on births with the guideline, as the province revised major family planning policy-related regulations and aborted collection of social maintenance fees, administrative charge imposed on couples who have extra children outside of China's family planning policy, after the country allowed all couples to have three children in 2021.  

The Health Commission of Guangdong Province on Thursday confirmed that the province's birth registration guideline, which was revised in March and implemented from May 1, stipulated that people do not need to apply for approval for their births and made clear that registration shall not be regarded as the basis of whether a birth conforms to the guidelines, highlighting the neutrality and objectivity of birth registration as a means of population monitoring, rather than as a tool to restricting births. 

The commission said birth registration is the basic work to improve the population monitoring system, accurately obtain residents' birth status and service needs and provide birth services. 

To ensure the population monitoring fully covers all, the guideline allows birth registration for births outside the marriage and scraps restrictions on couples' household registration permit, hukou. It said it does not restrict the number of births a couple has, which meant that couples having more than three children could still register births. 

The implementation of the birth registration guideline is the latest move for Guangdong to revise or abort its births related regulations after China further relaxed its family planning policy in May 2021 to allow a couple to have three children. 

Chinese demographers said that the population policy transformation and development of Guangdong, as the province with most number of permanent population and migrant population as well as most births gained more attention, although other provinces and cities have started to revise their birth regulations to better implement the three-child policy.

In December 2021, the revised Guangdong family planning regulations came into effect, which aborted collection of social maintenance fees and introduced 10 days of parental leave for couples whose children were younger than 3 years old.

At the end of April, Guangdong provincial government issued a plan for boosting the long-term balanced development of population, which introduced supporting measures for three-child policy, including improving healthcare system for newborns and exploring multiple means to expand education for kindergarten children. 

According to birth statistics of different provinces, Guangdong was the only province with the number of newborns exceeding 1 million in 2021. 

But in general, majority of provinces experienced a drop in newborns in recent years, and the number of newborns in Guangdong in 2021 dropped by 22 percent compared to the number in 2017. 

He Yafu, an independent demographer, told the Global Times that Guangdong's guideline has symbolic significance in removing the cap on the number of children a couple can have to encourage more births. He said after China implemented three-child policy, couples giving births to more than three children are not bound by the current policy, but Guangdong's guidelines allow all births to be registered indicated that it no longer treats those births as not conforming to current policy. 

Huang Wenzheng, a demography expert and senior researcher from the Center for China and Globalization, hailed the guideline as it revealed Guangdong's efforts in scraping birth restrictions in legal sector. And so far, previous major regulations on family planning policy in Guangdong have been revised or aborted.

But this is far from enough to improve China's low birth rate, as more regulations on encouraging births should be introduced, Huang said. 

He said for next step, Guangdong should revise its regulations on more supporting measures under the three-child policy, such as offering preferential admission policies for couples who have two or more children.